Sunday 18 August 2019

Bairbre Power: 'I've discovered the real reason for karate-chopping the pillows'

Mid Life

Hyacinth Bucket was very fond of plumping cushions
Hyacinth Bucket was very fond of plumping cushions
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

I think the arrival of April always brings out a cyclical house pride in us where we want to have the place looking spick and span before Easter arrives.

In my case, it's a relief to finally get the Christmas decorations out from under the stairs, up to their new home in the newly decorated guest bedroom. It used to be the dump room, but now that the Yanks are coming (that's what they call themselves) and since they broke the news in their Christmas card, I've been counting down the weeks and surveying my domestic mess with panic.

Truth be told, I've been decorating like a maniac and I'm hoping the visitors will never spot the Yuletide decorations hidden under the bed in their new 'Hamptons-meets-Dublin' baskets.

I've never been to the Hamptons - Boston was the closest I ever got - but recently, I've been watching a load of property videos on Instagram about Australian beach houses that have been built and decorated in 'The Hamptons style'.

A 'driftwood' table of gnarled wood is about the closest I'll get to The Hamptons' lifestyle 'state of mind'.

When the return of winter week brought evil hailstones three days after I got my windows cleaned, I made good of the evening indoors to do some spruce-ups. So down came the nets and into the washing machine with them, followed by the giant couch throw and a posse of cushion covers. But then came the frustrating job of arm wrestling the covers back around the linings. I wonder do posh people skip this by simply sending their cushion covers to the dry cleaners? They probably have interior designers who come in to swap around their cushions/lampshades and art to match the season. It's kind of addictive peeping through the keyhole of other people's lives and homes on Instagram.

I wouldn't call myself an expert in interiors, but I like to know about the trends even if I don't always bring them into my home. Take the 2018 very instagrammable trends of rose gold tables, navy walls, mustard seating, subway tiles and exposed light bulbs - all lovely, but I didn't do any of them. At the moment, I'm kind of liking the 2019 trend of velvet seating.

However, I will never subscribe to one fad - and that's karate chopping your cushions. It sprang up around a decade ago amongst hardcore interiors types. You basically chop the middle of the cushion with your hand in order to fluff up the inside and the chop action leaves an indentation in the middle.

If your cushion is in a gleaming, light-catching fabric, that makes for the kind of 'Instagram gold' that a lot of people crave as they share their lives on the social media platform.

Now if I thought that my life was too short to polish the copper kettle before leaving for work in the morning, it's safe to say I'm not going to be 'chopping' my cushions any time soon.

I know there are people who are obsessive about their interiors and chopping is just a new take on 'plumping cushions', like the infamous Hyacinth Bucket did on Keeping Up Appearances.

I simply like my cushions sitting diagonally and not slouching. That's more to do with a ballet class at the age of four when Miss Birchall on the Green would coax me incessantly to "stand up straight".

When it comes to blindspots on interiors trends, I'll confess to being mystified by the popularity of the super luxurious deep pile carpet that looks unhoovered - and that's on purpose because a natural 'footsteps on sand' look is the desired effect!

I have a friend who is maniacal about hoovering 365 days of the year and I can safely say this 'footprints' carpet would push her over the edge. I liked my domestic set-pieces, like hoovering Saturdays and Tuesday-night ironing, but I really need to stop channelling guilt about a poor work/life balance by putting on another wash.

Now that I think about it, maybe the popularity of karate-chopping cushions has less to do with interior perfection and symmetry and more to do with beating stress in your life.

My eyes have been opened. Watch out for the puffed-up pictures.

Irish Independent

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